Give Thanks By Supporting Efforts to End Child Hunger, Says AFSA

(WASHINGTON, November 26) –Hunger is extremely detrimental to children, not only having a negative impact on their health, but a child’s education and emotional development. For the 16 million kids and their families affected by hunger each year, Thanksgiving should be used as a time to support efforts to end hunger says the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA).

“Hungry kids are more than rumbling bellies,” says AFSA President Diann Woodard. “Hungry kids can’t concentrate and lack the energy to fully engage in learning. Hungry kids are at a severe disadvantage in the classroom.”

One in five American students come from food insecure families, meaning their household regularly lacks nutritious food.  According to Feeding America, these students not only enter kindergarten with lower math scores, but also learn less over the course of the school year. By the third grade, students from food-insecure homes have lower reading and math scores than their peers, causing a lag that continues into middle and secondary schooling.

“Kids can’t get ahead if they start behind,” Woodard says. “Pushing more disadvantaged kids away from the starting line by cutting nutrition programs or ignoring hunger in schools is effectively widening the opportunity gap we’re trying to close.”

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed $40 billion in cuts from the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Almost half of SNAP recipients are children while 22 percent are adults living with children. Meanwhile, in a recent survey of over 1,000 K-8 principals and teachers nationwide, “Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report 2013,” 87 percent reported seeing hungry kids in their schools at least once a week.  With the devastating cuts to SNAP taking away 3.4 billion meals for low-income Americans, the number of students relying on their local schools as the only source of food will increase.

This Thanksgiving, let’s not forget those who are not able to provide for themselves or need a little help with hunger. To help those children in need:

  • Tell your senators and representatives that federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP, the Women, Infants and Children program and the National School Breakfast program, are vital and should not be cut or eliminated.
  • Make a donation to one of the many organizations fighting to end child hunger, such as Feeding America and No Kid Hungry.
  • Organize a food drive or fundraiser
  • Start or support a backpack feeding program designed to provide food insecure children with food for summers, breaks and weekends away from school

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Contact: Andrea Garvue (425) 922-5730